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2018 was the year gardeners drew a line in the soil

  • Author: Jeff Lowenfels
    | Alaska gardening
  • Updated: December 27, 2018
  • Published December 27, 2018

Opponents of cuts to Anchorage's flower budget triumphantly leave the Anchorage Assembly meeting, many holding flowers, held Nov 20, when the Assembly decided not to cut the city's flower and horticulture budget and divert the money to other programs. (James Brooks / ADN archive)

The last column of the year is one where I like to express some “out of the garden” thoughts. And why not -- it has been quite a year, hasn’t it? We had a big geological earthquake, a defining climatological earthquake and an important political-gardening earthquake.

As for the geological earthquake, no one can deny the risky geologic conditions around here. It took the “Big One” in ’64 for Alaskans to heed soil experts like Lydia Selkregg when they told us where not to build for geological reasons. As a result, even our greenhouses survived this last one.

As for the climate change earthquake, have you read between the lines of the recent United Nations report? There is only one who is smarter than all and can deny climate change and our role in it, but that report should convince gardeners to rethink what we do and how we do it. We must if we want future gardeners to be able to do anything at all.

The gas-powered lawn mower, chemical-based fertilizers, rototilling and other practices are all contributing factors to climate change. And, as a clear and undeniable proof of it, strange plants that never used to survive here have already become new weeds and are utterly changing our habitat.

As for the political-gardening earthquake, you may not have felt it, but if you are an Alaska gardener, you helped cause it. It happened when Alaska’s elected representatives (as well as those appointed by them) reversed course because they were made to realize how important the garden community’s desires are. For once, gardeners stood up and were counted.

Finally, it seems, those we elected recognized that staunch Republicans, Democrats, Communists, Liberals, Conservatives, yellow jackets and all have one thing in common: gardening. We do it. We love it. We will defend all aspects of it!

We may disagree on everything else, but we understand that there is a line in the soil no public official should cross. We expect -- no, that earthquake shows we demand -- no more sacrifices of our horticultural aesthetics.

They get the message. Flowers and trees and public gardens are just as important as fish, game, roads and even public safety. They are a necessary part of the fabric of Alaska life and are not to be trifled with.

My New Year’s prediction is that there will be as many gardening political earthquakes as is necessary from here on in if the horticultural line is broached again. Hopefully, however, we have smart elected officials and we won’t have any more need of gardening earthquakes. We really don’t need them, or the other quakes either, do we?

Jeff’s Alaska gardening calendar

Happy New Year! Don’t do anything but recycle your Christmas tree this week. You know the routine. No ornaments, no wires: just a bare tree and only in the designated Carrs parking lots.